Listening to his Cantata 140, one may well opine that Bach was a genius of a melodymaker. Melody shines throughout the choruses, duets and recitatives here, and Christian optimism pervades. Bach makes choral music happy; his art is, of course, a sanguine art.
Cantata 140 is impressively dignified too—not only in its choruses but also in, for example, the first soprano-and-bass duet. Indeed, a sense of human dignity is evoked as well as the greatness of Christ, for the worth of man exists because the worth of God exists. However, it is the cantata’s second duet (the sixth movement) that contributes to the work’s beauty more than anything else, for it is a gentle and splendidly lyrical aria. It’s no surprise it issues from the melodymaker behind “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”